man with head in hands looking down

How to Handle Grief After Quitting Your Job

Conversations about grief tend to revolve around the death of a loved one. This is understandable but only addresses a smart part of how grief can manifest. We can mourn after a relocation, divorce, or seeing our child leave for college. Any major life change is enough to lead to bereavement. The causes can also be more abstract, e.g. losing one’s innocence or perceived youth.

But what if you’re the one who initiates the big change? Surely, most people don’t mouth when they voluntarily leave a job, right? On the contrary, job loss of any kind can leave a large hole in your life. Let’s take a closer look.

Why Does Quitting Your Job Sometimes Cause Grief?

For starters, quitting your job automatically increases uncertainty in your life. Rhythms and routines you may have taken for granted are suddenly gone — and it feels scary. A big part of that fear could be money-related. Just because you opted to quit doesn’t mean you’ll be immune to worrying about finances.

But the stress goes well beyond income. In a profit-driven culture, it’s not unusual for your job to become a source of your identity. After all, when someone asks what you “do,” they almost always are inquiring about how you earn a “living.” On top of that, the workplace is frequently where you have many of your social interactions.

Quitting your job can result in you wondering who you are and why you feel so alone. Such losses — despite being voluntary — are like any other losses. They need some time to be processed and digested.

Red Flags to Watch For

If you’ve recently quit your job, it makes a whole lot of sense to monitor your emotions and behaviors. Keep a sharp eye out for any of these patterns:

  • Feeling unable to navigate the loss of structure and identity
  • Being unmotivated to move forward with the plans that led you to quit
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Feeling guilty and ashamed about being unemployed
  • Self-isolation and social withdrawal
  • Not taking of yourself (hygiene, exercise, diet, etc.)
  • Losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Having thoughts of self-harm

man with head in hands looking downAny of the above is enough for you to speak with a professional. At the same time, self-help steps should be implemented to help shift the momentum.

How to Handle Grief After Quitting Your Job

Do Not Suppress Your Emotions

You may feel weird that a change you initiated has thrown a monkey wrench into your life. If so, it’s best to feel what you need to feel. Suppressed grief will resurface in other, more detrimental ways. So, allow yourself to mourn.

Reinvent Your Life

This can be an amazing opportunity to new things. Get creative and try the road not taken. You’re an evolving human and it makes sense that you’d want to have some new experiences.

Volunteer

Nothing raises our spirits more than helping others. Follow your heart and get involved with your community in ways that light you up and increase gratitude. You just may find a whole new career in the process!

Practice Self-Care

Create a daily, non-negotiable regimen. Safeguard your sleep patterns, make healthy eating choices, and engage in daily exercise. Connect with twisted friends and loved ones. Cultivate relaxation techniques.

You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers

Plenty of folks in your position find solace in joining a support group — in-person or online. A more personalized approach is to connect with a therapist who can offer a judgment-free zone in which you can openly discuss what you’re feeling. We’d love to help. Reach out to learn more about grief counseling or life transitions.

photo of a woman standing in front of a Christmas tree

Why Does Grief Feel Worse During The Holiday Season?

The holiday season is often a time of dramatic ups and downs. Amidst the celebrations, traditions, decorations, and shopping, we also have the overindulging and the family drama. But there’s also another factor that can put quite a damper on the holiday fun. Those of us who are grieving may find it quite challenging to partake in the gatherings and gift-giving.

Grief is tough any time of year. However, the holiday season has a way of amplifying and escalating the pain. This two-month period imposes literal expectations for you to be joyous but you’re having a very hard time finding the holiday spirit.

Why Does Grief Feel Worse During The Holiday Season?

For starters, it’s a matter of timing. If you suffer a loss at another point of the year, the people in your life will probably be more available and accessible. You’ll get the support you need without feeling like you’re competing with a speeding locomotive. From the trick-or-treating to the New Year’s resolutions, people are juggling jam-packed schedules and obligations. It can be a very lonely place to be.

Also, as touched on above, the holidays are sold to us as the season when even Scrooge and The Grinch end up with smiles on their faces. You can look down your nose at other holidays but no one is “allowed” to ignore the end-of-the-year traditions. Therefore, you may even find yourself pretending to feel happy despite wanting to cry all the time. Without an outlet, grief will inevitably feel worse.

Finally, by December, most folks have abandoned all pretense of self-care. Diets are ditched, sleep habits are forgotten, and your gym membership is not getting much use. Just when you need to be taking extra good care of yourself, your mind and body are being neglected. Negative emotions have more of an impact under these circumstances.

photo of a woman standing in front of a Christmas treeHow to Cope With Grief During The Holiday Season

  • Accept your emotions. There is absolutely no shame or guilt in mourning. Do it your way and trust that others will understand.
  • Plan ahead. Talk to loved ones and co-workers about what you’re going through. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t depend on others for transportation so you have the freedom to leave events when you need to.
  • Give yourself permission to say no. Only accept invitations that feel self-loving.
  • Release guilt about not sticking to traditions this year. You have every right to adapt as you see fit and, for that matter, to create new traditions in memory of your lost loved one. For example, you can cook your loved one’s favorite dish in their honor.
  • Brace yourself for well-intentioned comments that can feel invalidating. As a culture, we don’t deal well with grief. Therefore, you may hear lines like “It’s time to move on” or “They wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
  • Talk in advance to anyone with whom you exchange gifts. Let them know if you want or need any changes to the usual agreements.

Don’t Rule Out Fun

If you feel the urge to tell a joke, get on the dance floor, or join in the caroling, don’t hold yourself back. Just as there are no rules forcing you to partake, there are no grief police preventing you from having fun at times. It doesn’t mean you’re not sad or that you didn’t love the person who has passed. All it means is that you’re human and thus, complex and unpredictable.

If the burden of grief during the holidays becomes overwhelming, do not suffer in silence. Reach out to us to get the support you need and deserve in grief counseling.

Christine Dudero, MA, LMFTchristine.dudero@affinitypsych.com

Christine Dudero is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist experienced in working with individuals, couples & families across the lifespan. Christine takes a collaborative approach towards empowering you to achieve your therapy goals.

close up photo of grass with tall trees in the background

Identifying and Coping with “Eco-grief”

Do you find yourself worrying about climate change? Are you constantly thinking about the effects of climate change on the world? Do the increasingly high number of forest fires and extreme weather events worry you? Do you experience genuine grief at the idea that we might be losing a big part of our planet’s ecosystems for good?

If you do, that’s entirely normal and understandable. We live in difficult times, and climate change is a pressing issue. If these feelings are a common occurrence in your life, you may be dealing with eco-grief.

What is Eco-Grief?

Simply put, eco-grief is our response to the loss of our environment. We are losing landscapes and ecosystems to climate change, and that can be very distressing. We might be mourning actual forests, or maybe we’re mourning the losses we’ll suffer in the future. But at the end of the day, loss is loss, and eco-grief is real.

Eco-Grief and Eco-Anxiety

It’s possible for eco-grief and eco-anxiety to be confused with one another.

Do you dread the effects that climate change threatens to have? Is that a future you fear? Do you constantly think about it in a way that makes you nervous or even panicked? That’s eco-anxiety: anxiety about climate change and the future it may leave us with.

Are you sad about the current effects of climate change on earth? Do you grieve the animal species that disappear and the ecosystems that are destroyed? Are you mourning the loss of such important parts of our planet? If so, then what you’re feeling is eco-grief.

Neither is easy to cope with, but grief in general is unique. Eco-grief is no different. But it’s possible to learn how to cope with it.

close up photo of grass with tall trees in the background

Accept Your Grief

A big part of processing grief involves accepting what you’re feeling. It’s important to recognise that your emotions are real and that you’re allowed to feel that way. Try not to judge yourself for whatever emotions you may have. Instead, try to sit with them, to accept them. And, if you feel like it, try to express it in one way or another, like creating art or writing in a journal.

Find a Community

When it comes to eco-grief, you’re not alone. There are a lot of people all over the planet who also experience eco-grief. Don’t be afraid to find these people, reach out to them and find a community.

Maybe you can find a support group close to you, or an online group you can talk to. You can talk about your grief with them, and in turn, you can listen to them talk about their own.

Take Action

Eco-grief is one of the strongest motivators to take action. While it isn’t one single individual’s responsibility to solve climate change, we can all do something to help.

The most common ways of helping are donating to organizations against climate change and signing relevant petitions, but if you prefer something a little more hands-on, then don’t hesitate to search for a climate group in your area. You can check with them what are the things you can do to help.

Things aren’t hopeless. It’s possible to take action still, so if you find yourself with the motivation to do something, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Seek Professional Help

Grief, no matter what kind, is difficult to deal with. Eco-grief is not an exception. If you find yourself struggling with grief still, then don’t hesitate to seek professional help. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help when you need it, and that’s what we’re here for. Schedule an appointment if you need to for grief counseling. You don’t have to deal with this alone.

woman sitting on window sill reading book

How Long Does Grief Fatigue Last After A Loss?

Grief is hard work. Losing a loved one causes stress on multiple levels. Emotions come and go without warning. This takes a toll on your body, too. At first, you may not even notice it. You think it’s because of all the logistics that need to be dealt with after a death. So many arrangements and phone calls and other details.

After the funeral, others have to get back to their own lives. For you, it’s impossible to think about “moving on.” Without so many people around, it starts to really hit you. They call it “grief fatigue” and it definitely lives up to the name.

Common Signs of Grief Fatigue

Profound Exhaustion

You feel like you’re dragging more than walking. Basic chores and daily functions feel daunting. Holding a conversation or engaging in small talk wipes you out.

Sleep Disturbances

Some folks struggle with insomnia. Others sleep all the time. In some instances, it’s a mix of both. Despite it all, you never feel rested even when you are able to sleep.

Hyper-vigilance

Being on edge is a trauma reaction. But it keeps you tense and wears you out. It’s as if you’re stuck in fight-or-flight mode. This exhausts your nervous system and subsequently, you.

Withdrawal

You pushed through the phone calls and the funeral details and all the family interactions. Now, you just want to be alone. With no one else around, you tend to ruminate and this just adds to your fatigue.

Other Sources of Exhaustion

  • Intense sorrow and emotional suffering
  • Fixated on the person who died
  • Conflicts with the people in your life
  • Self-blame, guilt, and anger
  • Unable to accept what has happened
  • Loneliness and numbness
  • Unexplained physical pain or tension

woman sitting on window sill reading bookHow Long Does Grief Fatigue Last After A Loss?

There is no single correct answer to this question. Everyone grieves differently. So many factors are at play. One thing that shows up across the board, though, is that you can take steps to ease the process. If grief exhaustion has you in its grip, here are some self-help suggestions to consider:

Practice Self-Care

It’s not the sexy, quick-fix answer we see in clickbait articles but prioritizing your own health is as fundamental as it gets. This means safeguarding your habits in areas like sleep, eating habits, exercise and physical activity, and stress management.

Resist the Urge to Isolate

Fatigue can build on itself in isolation. It may sound counterintuitive to socialize when you’re tired. But this is a situation where contact with trusted friends and family members can be energizing and healing.

Develop Patience

When you suffer a loss, the grief process is not linear. It does not follow a predetermined structure. Letting go of your expectations will reduce the frustration and thus, some of the exhaustion.

Do Not Suppress Your Feelings

Grief is not a form of weakness. You are under no obligation to “stay strong” or “move on” until you’re ready to do so. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. You never have to adhere to someone else’s timetable.

Create New Rituals and Traditions

The loss has changed your life. This reality will hit you from time to time, no matter how long it’s been. Finding meaning (whatever that means to you) in the situation is a powerful step toward recovery.

Complicated Grief is a Thing

Asking for help is often the best choice. Left unchecked, grief can linger and become a long-term issue. Since there is no single “right” way to grieve, it can be hugely helpful to work with a therapist during this time period. It all begins with a free and confidential consultation. Let’s connect today so we can help you in grief counseling.

grief-counseling

Managing the Anniversary of Your Loss: Tips for Coping When Grief Repeats

Grief is a tricky, unpredictable ride. Recovering from the loss of a loved one is a complicated process. It runs its own course on its own timetable. Eventually, the bereaved find ways to move forward. They carry the sorrow in their heart but the intensity of the mourning subsides. Until… the anniversary of the loss rolls around.

It’s a date that is seared into your memory that will come around — year after year. The effect may, at first, be unconscious. Eventually, you connect the time of year to your sudden emotional volatility. It can help to identify the connection. But now what?

Anniversary Grief

Anniversary grief is not limited to the precise anniversary. Its impact may begin in a vague way as the date approaches. The feelings of loss, loneliness, and sadness are some of the more obvious signs. In addition, you may experience any of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue and sleep disturbances
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Bursts of anger
  • Loss of concentration
  • Depression
  • Fixation on unhappy memories

Any or all of the above can be triggered by outside sources — even years after the loss. For example, certain foods, scents, music, or objects may be the catalyst. Sometimes, you have to live through the first anniversary to fully appreciate the reality of recurring bereavement. But fortunately, there are self-help steps you can make to anticipate the return to mourning.

5 Tips for Coping When Grief Repeats

1. If Possible, Prepare in Advance

Grief is always painful but can be eased when you’ve had time to prepare. As the date nears, remind yourself of the need for self-care and introspection. Honor the grief. It’s a powerful blend of emotions that helps us manage a loss.

2. Create Traditions and Rituals

  • Cook a specific meal
  • Engage in an activity that your loved one enjoyed or valued
  • Visit the gravesite
  • Do something in line with your faith and/or the faith of the deceased
  • Watch their favorite movie
  • Listen to their favorite music
  • Connect with someone who knew and loved the deceased

As you can see, the possibilities are limitless. The idea is to take part in activities and/or sensations that you feel will honor the person you lost. It can be incredibly helpful and healing to involve others in this process.

3. Schedule Time to Remember and Honor

Your life circumstances may not allow you to do anything elaborate. If so, you must still find time to set aside for the sole purpose of mourning and remembering. Do not let life’s hectic flow take you away from what is important. Take a day off from work, if possible.

4. Make It About You

There are no hard and fast rules here. Perhaps it feels most healing to center the day around yourself. Change up your routines. Treat yourself to a special meal or maybe a massage. Challenge yourself to try something new and adventurous. As you indulge in such behavior, remain aware of how happy your loved one would be to see you doing so. Feel how proud they are of you.

5. Be Kind of Yourself

Perhaps what you need most is self-care. You endured a loss, life went on, and here you are reminded of it one year later. Do what you need to do to soothe yourself and recover. If you need to talk, reach out to someone.

If you feel overwhelmed by the anniversary grief, reach out to a therapist. You never have to struggle alone. We’re happy to help and guide you through these challenges. Please contact us and read more about grief counseling. We look forward to hearing from you soon to set up a safe and confidential consultation.

Break-ups

Break-ups are so painful. They are universal; everyone goes through them. Yet, as you deal with your own break-up, you may feel entirely alone in the world. Therapy can be a really effective way to take care of yourself during this emotional time. It provides you with the support you need so that you no longer feel so alone, and it helps you build the resilience to confidently move forward.

Recovering from a Breakup

It isn’t easy dealing with a breakup. You might feel like you should just be able to get over it and move on. Others in your life might even be telling you as much. However, it’s important to understand that a breakup is a loss. Coping with any loss is a process.

There is a lot of grief involved in dealing with a breakup. Many people go through the same grieving stages after a breakup as they do after the death of someone they love. You might go through stages of anger, denial, and depression.

Getting therapy after a breakup can provide you with the support that you need to move through those stages. We can honor and accept the many feelings associated with a breakup. Eventually, you can reach a stage of acceptance, which allows you to move on to a new relationship in a healthy way.

Coping with Heartache

It is important to understand that recovering from a breakup may be hard regardless of the details of the relationship. In other words, it’s perfectly normal to have trouble coping with heartache regardless of whether:

  • The decision was mutual, someone broke up with you, or you made the call to end things
  • It was a short-term or long-term relationship
  • You were a monogamous couple or were dating other people
  • You are young, old, or in-between

If you are finding it hard to cope with the pain of a break-up, that feeling is completely valid. You may be dealing with emotions that are a direct reaction to the breakup itself. You may also have feelings related to the past, including your childhood or past relationships. Break-ups trigger many things. Sometimes coping with heartache means reviewing some of the past so as to be able to better move into the future.

Are You in Need of Professional Help?

Break-ups are a grief process. Anyone struggling with grief may benefit from professional help. In some cases, the grief can turn into depression. If you have symptoms of depression, including a loss of interest in activities and a struggle with low self-esteem, then it is important that you seek professional help right away.

However, you don’t have to be in crisis to gain benefits from therapy. In fact, some people come to therapy after a break-up even when, overall, they are doing okay. Therapy can help you process the relationship, understand the breakup, and set goals for the months to come.

Therapy can give you a chance to get reacquainted with yourself, to figure out who you are and what you want separate from that relationship.

We understand that break-ups are painful. They can also be opportunities for growth. We are here to help you honor the hurt, move through it, and then encourage you in the growth you experience on the other side. Feel free to get in touch with us today if you need some support as you move through a break-up process.